Decision deferred on whether to allow up to 526 flats to be built at Matalan site in Stevenage town centre

Councillors put back a decision on the application. Credit: Intercounty Properties Limited

Councillors put back a decision on the application. Credit: Intercounty Properties Limited - Credit: Archant

A decision on whether to grant permission to build up to 526 flats in Stevenage town centre has been deferred after councillors decided they were given insufficient information on the plans.

Planners at Stevenage Borough Council had recommended that outline planning permission be granted to turn the Matalan clothes store and two adjoining council car parks in Danestrete into up to 181 one-bed and 345 two-bed flats.

But councillors declined to make a decision last night and asked for more details on the site’s car parking, levels of affordable housing and overall size.

Planning and development committee chairman David Cullen said: “We didn’t feel there was enough information to make a decision. We wanted further information on the parking issue because there is substantially less parking than is normal with a site of this size. There were issues on the total number of units that will be on the site and whether or not it will be too big. We also asked for more information on the percentage of affordable housing.”

The council’s target is that 40 per cent of houses on a development of this size should be affordable. However the developer, Intercounty Properties Limited, claimed that this would make the site economically unviable. It offered to provide 4.6 per cent, equalling 21 units, of the flats as affordable housing.

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Another issue was parking. Under the council’s planning rules this development should have 699 car parking spaces. The plans only provided 109 spaces, but the developer claimed that because it is situated in an area with good public transport links this wouldn’t be a problem.

They also argued that the loss in council car parking spaces would be addressed by the town centre’s other car parks.

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Councillor Cullen said that the committee felt the concerns they raised on the night weren’t adequately answered which is why they opted not to make a decision.

He added: “Maybe the planners will come back with the same report but councillors wanted to have more information about how these issues would be addressed.”

Under outline planning permission, the size of a development can vary from the initial application. This would mean that there would not necessarily be 526 flats built and the number of car parking spaces could also vary.

The developer will also have to pay the council Section 106 money to compensate for any additional strain the extra housing and retail units put on public services in the area.

This is set by the number of bedrooms in a development but has not been finalised because the number of flats built can still vary.

In the public consultation stage, two petitions against the application were set up by people living in Pinetree Court and members of the Pinetree One Community Group. Among various concerns about the development they said objected to its size and the loss of car parking in the town centre.

The development would be up to 13 stories high and include shops and restaurants on the ground floor.

A date for a final decision on the application has not yet been set.

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